Royal Roads University commerce students Chris Vanderford and Cassie LeBlanc display the seed packaging they are selling as part of a class assignment.

Royal Roads University commerce students Chris Vanderford and Cassie LeBlanc display the seed packaging they are selling as part of a class assignment.

Online business ventures raise money for charity

Royal Roads University commerce students competing against each other in business

The school might not have any sports teams, but the competition is still heating up at Royal Roads University.

Students in the Bachelor of Commerce in Entrepreneurial Management program are in the throes of an intense contest to see which of five groups can outperform the others in an online business venture challenge.

Each sale, marked by a familiar ‘ka-ching’ sound notification to at least one group’s cellphones, gets the teams closer to the ultimate goal of having their business bring in the most funds for charity.

Royal Roads University commerce students Chris Vanderford and Cassie LeBlanc display the seed packaging they are selling as part of a class assignment. And this, says professor Geoff Archer, is just about the closest thing the school has to varsity sports.

“They want to compete with each other. They want to prove, ‘hey I’m doing this better than you are,’” he said.

With early February’s snow firmly in the rear view mirror, many people might be starting to think about their gardens.

At least, that’s what Chris Vanderford’s group is banking on.

The Colwood resident and chief financial officer for Seeds for SIDS ( said the idea came to the group after they decided they wanted to support Baby’s Breath, a support organization helping families that have dealt with sudden infant death syndrome.

Seeds seemed like a natural idea given their charity of choice.

“We liked the metaphor of tying seeds and growing beautiful flowers against the tragic loss of an infant,” said Vanderford, whose group had sold $500 worth of its product as of Feb. 17.

Students are tasked with using their marketing, accounting and promotion skills over the course of a month to raise as much money as possible for their charities.

Baby’s Breath was chosen because, between miscarriages and infant deaths, a large number of people are or know of someone who has been affected by the loss of a baby, Vanderford said.

With group members in Alberta and Ontario, Vanderford says it can be a challenge to co-ordinate meeting times online. But that challenge isn’t unique to their group, given that this is a blended online and on-campus program.

“Everyone has a day job that we’re all attending so we’re full-time students as well as being full-time whatever else we are … it comes down to a lot of day to day communication. A lot of phone calls, a lot of messaging,” he said.

One of Vanderford’s competitors is selling stylish socks, while another is raising funds via colouring books.

All of the ideas are original, but successful teams won’t rest on a good idea and will constantly be looking for ways to improve their business.

“The students have to roll with the punches. They have to adjust and they have to make decisions on the fly,” Archer said.

He sees value in the assignment for a number of reasons, but one of the most poignant learning aspects comes after the project has been completed.

“That’s when the students are reflecting back on this experience that they’ve had, which could be a pilot for something bigger,” he said.

A previous group of RRU students started Go Voluntouring, which combines luxury accommodations with volunteering and was later acquired by travel company Flight Centre.

Many students also end up turning over their business to the charities they’ve chosen to support.

Archer will be judging his students on 30 different criteria.

“From my perspective, it’s sort of a way of tricking people into being excited about writing a business plan,” he said.

The competition will continue until the end of the month and the students are scheduled to graduate from the program this summer.

The Other Competitors

  • 2City Sports – – sports apparel for fans of teams located in two different cities. Supporting Right to Play.
  • A Little Different – – stylish socks in support of Autism Speaks Canada.
  • Colouring for the Nina – – colouring books with funds going to the Nina Haggarty Centre for the Arts.
  • Happiness Delivered – – selling “Happiness Kits” that include personal messages, chocolates, scented candles and more. Proceeds to Kids Help Phone.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Marc Porpaczy said he’s glad he delayed his daily walk with his dog, Juno, after a car crashed just outside his driveway just before 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 25. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
VIDEO: Dramatic crash highlights need for sidewalks, say Colwood residents

‘The residents have gone from frustrated to angry’

(Black Press Media file photo)
Court-registered sex offender arrested for breach of parole in Langford

Cameron Ratelle returned to correctional facility after female youth approached at bus stop

(Black Press Media file photo)
Youth in police custody after kitchen knife call

A knife was recovered during the arrest, no injuries reported

(Black Press Media file photo)
VicPD arrest man at gunpoint after firearm call

Man faces charges for breaching condition not to possess replica firearms

Sooke’s Amy McLaughlin holds Theodore, a bunny who will be going to a new owner in Nanaimo within the coming days if all goes will at an upcoming bunny play-date. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Sooke woman looking to hop into bigger space for bunny business

Amy McLaughlin has rescued over 400 bunnies across the Island, mainland

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Residents of the Cowichan Valley decorated more than 55 vehicles with anti-racist slogans for a car rally in support of Cowichan Tribes on Saturday, January 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Dozens join anti-racism car rally and virtual panel in Cowichan Valley

Provincial ministry and BC Green caucus issue joint statement detailing concerns

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man accused of stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Island artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

Most Read